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The conference set a new attendance record with more than 1200 attendees this year. Themed “Safer, Faster, Stronger,” it served as a platform to share innovative ideas and build partnerships.
The conference set a new attendance record with more than 1200 attendees this year. Themed “Safer, Faster, Stronger,” it served as a platform to share innovative ideas and build partnerships.

Safety and innovation were recurrent themes at the 2018 North American Iron Workers/IMPACT Conference in Orlando,Fla., Feb. 11-14. The conference set a new attendance record with more than 1200 attendees this year. Themed “Safer, Faster, Stronger,” it served as a platform to share innovative ideas and build partnerships.

“I took General President Walt Wise's 'Zero Fatality Campaign' a step further to aim for zero incidents,” said Iron Workers (IW) General President Eric Dean addressing the general session on Feb. 12. “We have dedicated the necessary resources to pursue new innovative safety initiatives designed to prevent workplace incidents and improve safety performance throughout the United States and Canada.”

The IW and its ironworker-employer partnership IMPACT showcased several innovative safety and training initiatives during the conference. The Ironworker Safety Director Training Course (IWSTDC) was launched in 2016 in response to the high demand from contractors for full-time safety professionals with ironworker field experience to manage company safety programs. The IW has revolutionized job site safety management by training veteran ironworkers with hands-on experience to manage safety of their fellow workers. The course has been expanded to 40 hours of classroom instruction including a comprehensive written examination, during which the participants learn from 10 subject matter experts. The IW Safety and Health Department analyzed incident trends demonstrating the need for ironworker-specific supervisory safety training and developed the Ironworker Safety Supervisor Course (ISSC), which is slated to be offered through the IW apprenticeship program by the end of the year. The organization announced a groundbreaking paid maternity leave program with 6 months of pre-delivery and 6-8 weeks of postpartum benefit for ironworker women during a panel focused on diversity at the conference last year. During the general session this year, the IW General President Eric Dean shared an update on the progress of the program. He also announced the IW third-party, accredited Rigger and Signal Person Certification, one of the organization's latest innovative training initiatives.

This year's conference featured a host of prominent speakers. Keynote speaker Keni Thomas drew from his experience as an Army Ranger to inspire attendees to achieve greatness through outstanding leadership at every level. During the general session on Feb. 12, LB Construction President and CEO LaMar Childs shared insights on issues facing diverse, small construction businesses and tips on how they can turn problems into profits. A panel of experts addressed metal building systems, market trends and growth opportunities. Waiward Steel Inc. presented its innovative competency program MODOS, which helped the company significantly reduce safety incidents and achieve over 4 million work hours without a lost-time incident last year.

Nooter Construction Company presented on how it elevated safety and quality as core values to achieve zero incidents. “We keep safety and quality at the forefront throughout the production process,” said Mike Murphy from Nooter Construction Company. “It begins with the end in mind and continues to be embraced, implemented, enforced and reinforced”. Ryan Fruchey from Don R. Fruchey enlightened the general session about the importance and benefits of Lean Construction practices. Matt Abeles from Builtworlds and Stacy Scopano from Skanska USA, Inc. educated the general session about the latest technology in the construction industry – the “workforce of the future”.

During the metal building panel, Pangere Corporation received an award from a representative of the International Accreditation Service (IAS) for meeting the requirements in the IAS Accreditation Criteria – AC478 and the International Building Code. A panel of end users on Feb. 13, focused on safety, productivity, skilled labor shortage and workforce development and the safety panel discussed job site safety supervision.

The value-added breakouts covered topics including business development, construction technology for the future, detail planning for fabrication and erection, meal buildings, ornamental sector, modular fabrication, job site safety management and supervision, off-shore imports and competency programs to elevate safety and productivity.

Attendees walked away at the end of the conference with invaluable business acumen. The IW and IMPACT look forward to another successful conference next year in Las Vegas.

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